Nathan Lyon
Nathan Lyon well remembers playing in Australia's last Test loss to New Zealand, in Hobart in 2011. Image by Ben McKay/AAP PHOTOS
  • cricket

Black Caps eye rare home Test chance against Australia

Ben McKay February 26, 2024

The richly-anticipated Test series between the Black Caps and Australia arrives on Thursday, with much hope from the hosts they can snap one of their worst runs in cricket.

Not in 31 years have New Zealand beaten Australia in a Test on home soil, demonstrating the stranglehold Australia enjoy in trans-Tasman cricket.

While Australia might look to England or India as their primary rivals, for Kiwis, a series against Australia is the one: a chance to beat big brother.

New Zealanders are savouring this contest, with both Tests, at Wellington’s Basin Reserve then Christchurch’s Hagley Oval, sold out.

This is the series the Black Caps have long craved: a crack at their arch-rivals on their home decks.

It’s been eight years since Australia undertook a Test tour of Aotearoa, a quirk of the schedule that has only served to elevate this contest – particularly given New Zealand’s current riches in talent.

Daryl Mitchell, a veteran of 123 outings for New Zealand across the three formats, has never played Australia at home.

He’s also never beaten Australia in any format.

Daryl Mitchell
 Yet to win against Australia, NZ stalwart Daryl Mitchell says his team must focus on their tasks. Image by Ben McKay/AAP PHOTOS 

That’s right: one of the Black Caps’ mainstays of recent years has never tasted victory over Australia, be it T20, ODI or Test.

Given the opportunity that arises for New Zealand over the next fortnight, Mitchell said his side had to actively downplay the tour’s significance.

“For us, it’s not making that bigger than what it is,” he said.

“It’s cool to take on the Aussies … it’s going to be pretty special in front of a packed Basin and Aussie are a world-class team.

“It’s obviously a special series for everyone but at the same time, it’s just another ball coming down at you and trying to find a way to negate it.”

Australia’s dominance is so strong that only three of the traveling squad know what it’s like to lose a Test to the Black Caps.

In the 31 years since New Zealand’s last home win, there have been 31 Tests between the two, with Australia losing just once: at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval in 2011.

The survivors from that Test – Mitchell Starc, 34, Usman Khawaja, 37, and Nathan Lyon, 36 – were in their second, sixth and seventh Tests respectively.

In a low-scoring classic, New Zealand set Australia a second-innings chase of 240 to win.

While David Warner carried his bat with 123 not out, he ran out of partners as Doug Bracewell took 6-40 to gave New Zealand a seven-run win.

“I’ve still got that in my head,” Lyon said at the Basin Reserve on Monday.

“All I remember is Davey batting at the end there with me … we have 30 runs (to get) and he goes, ‘if we chase down this total it’ll be one hell of a party’.

“Then I got bowled with about 11 runs to get so we’ve missed out on the hell of a party.”

Doug Bracewell
 Doug Bracewell (facing) was swamped by teammates as he bowled NZ to victory in Hobart in 2011. Image by AP PHOTO 

On their last visit to the Basin, Australia put New Zealand to the sword with an innings and 52-run victory in 2016.

Lyon took 7-123 across the two innings, recalling howling winds common in the capital.

“Fond memories,” he said.

“A few of the big quicks didn’t want to run into it … so that’s where I get my overs.”

New Zealand often line up without a dedicated spinner for home Tests, with Mitchell Santner missing out in the second Test against South Africa.

Santner may do again given a likely green pitch in Wellington, but Lyon was adamant of the need for spin.

“If it seams, it spins … spin to win in my eyes,” he said.

“I’m excited to see what pitches are produced. But I dare say there’ll be some spin in there.”